Sunday, December 28, 2008

Paranormal & Fortean : Questions About the Nature of Reality

Now I would like to take you on a tour of three other ideas of parallel or multiple universes. After discussing the Hubble volumes created in inflationary expansion in the post below, the next type of multi-verse that could be created along this line of thinking in some of the theories of modern astrophysics (believe it or not these ideas really do tie into the research on reincarnation I am doing), is a theory called chaotic inflation. In chaotic inflation, inflation ends in some regions of space time, making certain Hubble volumes friendly to the formation of life as we know it. However quantum fluctuations cause other regions to inflate even faster, one hyper-inflating bubble giving birth to another in a never ending chain reaction. The domains of this theoretical set of universes would not be possible to get to even if you could travel faster than the speed of light. This is due to the fabric of space time itself expanding at a rate faster than light. As this chain reaction of universes giving birth to other universes had no beginning in time and the exponential growth will go on forever there will be an infinity of these universe so large that it is not countable. Think back to Georg Cantor and his proof that there are higher degrees of infinity than the set of the countable integers-1,2,3,...and the set of the real numbers is of a higher degree than that of the integers on the number line. The real numbers are also known as transfinite numbers when their uncountabilty is factored in. I will come back with a link if anyone would like to see more about this topic. The number of universes that are spawned in chaotic inflation have the same degree of infinity-transfinite-as the set of real numbers. Also in the theory of chaotic inflation some of these universes would not necessarily have our same laws of physics, same dimensions of space and same particles. If this theory is correct we may share reality with some unimaginably strange places. The theory of chaotic inflation would also explain why there is life in our own universe. This is because with the number of universes or multi-verses being created being uncountably infinite, you would expect some of these universes to be amenable to the creation of life.

The next type of universe or multi-verse we will talk about is equally strange, if not stranger to most people as it has caused the most controversy in modern physics. Whenever a random quantum event occurs-according to the thinking of some scientists-all possible versions of this event happens, although the others 'happen' in parallel universes not accessible to us. Strangely enough there is a large body of scientific theory and knowledge that supports this idea! This set of ideas comes about because in quantum theory the state of the universe is not given by 'Newtonian' type physics (knowing the position and velocities of all particles), but by a mathematical object called a wavefunction. In the Schrodinger equation the wavefunction evolves in time in an infinite dimensional space called Hilbert space, named after the mathematician who 'invented' it, although as we shall see these ideas and mathematical ideas are not invented by human beings, they are discovered by human beings. This Hilbert space would be where the wavefunction 'lives'. There are very counterintuitive results that happen when the Schrodinger equations are taken at face value. Situations arise where an object could be in two places at once. In a thought experiment Schrodinger did he imagined a cat placed into a box that was connected to a device that breaks open a bottle of poison in the box and kills the cat. The device is set off by the completely random radioactive decay of atoms. The strangeness arises because if the scientist has no way to observe what is actually happening in the box, there is a superposition of states where the cat can only be thought of as alive and dead at the same time.
There is truly no way around the strangeness of this situation. Until the cat can be observed it is both alive and dead. The ways that scientists and theorists have tried to 'get around' this unexpected result have failed. The simplest yet strangest way of explaining the description of the wavefunction regarding the cat is to suppose that in one universe the radioactive decay occurs and the cat is killed, in another 'split-off' universe the radioactive decay does not occur and the cat is alive. As a cat lover I hope we live in the 'split-off' universe! In recent times modern physics has produced situations where particles in a quantum state are in two places at once-literally. The simplest description of this type of multi-verse is that when any random quantum event takes place in one universe, another universe is created where the opposite happens and indeed all things happen, as the wavefunction for even the simplest quantum event provides for an almost infinite number of outcomes, much less when you consider the vast number of quantum particles and events taking place in our universe at levels of time so small they are unimaginable to human beings. In this line of theorizing there is a universe where perhaps, the moon landings happened in 1968 instead of 1969, JFK and MLK are still alive, maybe the superpower in the year 2008 in the universe next door so to speak is on the continent of Africa. You can go on endlessly with speculation along these lines, including events in your own personal life. I know from talking to my parents that I easily could have been born in 1958 instead of 1965. This leads me to wonder if there is a universe with the 1958 model 'Devin' instead of the 1965 version:-). Every event that can possibly happen does happen as the wavefunctions evolve, although they are happening in universes or multi-verses unaccessible right now to us-maybe not forever.

The last type of parallel or multiple universes to describe is kind of hard -yet easy in some ways to explain and a link I will give at the end of this post might explain it better. For centuries scientists and theorists have wondered at mathematics ability to describe our physical world. Many have seen this as almost paranormal in itself. Why should mathematics be so good at describing nature and the universe? I have said many times I do not think math and science describe everything that exists, but it is truly incredible the amount of things that can be understood in the world using mathematics. This has led some to speculate: "What if the universe itself is a mathematical structure?" What if the reason mathematical equations are so good at describing reality is because they are reality? Mathematical structures are examples of formal systems. Formal systems consist of abstract symbols and rules for using them. They logically dictate how strings of symbols (theorems), can be derived from given ones called axioms. A mathematical structure would be a changless 'entity' beyond space and time. In our familiar perspective of viewing the world we see events unfold sequentially. If the mathematical structure were a movie, it would be the whole movie and not just a single frame. This is a direct quote from a paper the physicist Max Tegmark did in 2003: "Given a mathematical structure, we will say that it has physical existence if any self-aware substructure (SAS) within it subjectively, from its frog perspective, perceives itself as living in a physically real world." Tegmark also stated in the same paper, "Now suppose that our physical world really is a mathematical structure and that you are an SAS within it." If our reality is indeed a mathematical structure and we are self-aware substructures living in it, there is no reason to suppose that parallel 'universes' do not exist based on the same theory and also getting back to the other type of universe discussed with different physical laws, dimensions and particles etcetera, that other bizarre (to us) universes or mathematical structures exist based on different types of math. These theories are truly incredible if you think about them and as science makes progress there will even be ways to rule some of these in or out. I think this quote by John Fowles sums up the situation nicely, " Human territory is defined least of all by physical frontiers." I have thrown out a lot of ideas in this set of posts and will try to come back with more links that I hope will be helpful to anyone not familiar with these ideas. Here is the first link that might be helpful for anyone thinking about what it might be like to live in a mathematical structure
I hope to be back very soon with more on reincarnation and other things I am working on. Peace and be well to anyone stopping by or passing through!


Alex Robinson said...

Howdy Devin on this fine sunny day :)

These are interesting ideas, although I must admit maths tends to do my head in!
Perhaps this has been said before, but I wondered if somehow maths could be the 'structure' that holds us here - some kind of mathematically formulated web - I cannot feel that we are 'constructs' - just seems to be too many little quirks within each & every strange & wonderful human being.

Word verification was 'messes' - made me think of Mesa but also seemed to suggest the non-structured quirkiness of humans.

Having a delightful time in Perth - have seen some very interesting & 'questionable' sights & learning much. Perth, it seems, may be rather an important place in the scheme of things - I had just seen it as a city tucked away on the edge of nowhere.

I hope you are very well
All the best

Devin said...

wise as always so happy to see you here and your wonderful and thoughtful comments! Very interesting about the word verification-I noticed a recent word verification-think it was at your place got me thinking-i should have wrote it down arjuna-i think? I intended to come back with some links that might help folks with these concepts and almost immediately began having connection probs-do not know what is causing this-if it stays stable i will try adding links one by one as i find them. I am so glad you are having a great time in Perth! the best as always to you and your son and your friend also-tell Perth-Mesa says hi:-)

Nina said...

i love to ponder the idea of multiple/parallel universes. (is that the plural for universe? is it universi?) the idea that there are other "me's" living out life...the idea that i can throw a ball and the effect is being played out in all it's possible ways. it's fascinating! can't quite wrap my mind around it though. some days when i'm down i think "in another universe i am rich and successful!" :)

Devin said...

Nina! so glad to see you here at MFM-universi-thats a good one:-)I also love to think about these ideas and that is the reason there are so many posts about it-but some of the concepts are very hard to follow-as I am going along I am also trying to think of ways to tie in this thinking with the research on reincarnation I am doing. I also do the 'in another universe i am better off idea' but then i also think how incredibly fortunate I am right now-and it makes me feel guilty-I also often wonder at what points in my life and what points in other people that I know lives could have taken a turn for the better or the worse-and this theorizing leaves me wondering if 'everything' that can happen to someone actually does happen-maybe in a parallel universe you and i are in a popular rock band :-)thanks so much for stopping by and commenting-I love your blog also and hope to look at it more when i am done with some of the research i am doing.

X. Dell said...

One of the reasons perhaps why the multiverse explanation is so contoversial is because it throws a big monkey wrench into our cherished concept of free will. I don't really know if free will exists or not, but I'm fairly sure that if it does, it's not what we think it is.

The multiverse actually implies an explanation of free will as a tendency for similitude. If you think of a normal curve, for example, you have the possibilities that are very typical, some that are a little more uncommon, and then you have the extremes. Most people think of normality only as the typical, when in fact it's the whole curve, anomalies and all.

Thus, free will might manifest itself in the typical layout of our existence, our habits of going zig instead of zag. But this might not matter that much in the overall shape of things, since many of the choices we make would seem to have enviornmental and sociological influences,

Devin said...

Thanks again so much for stopping by today X-I hope you are getting some time off work! If my thoughts collide do not worry its just insomnia-agree with your thoughts here and earlier about 90 percent predictability of human behavior-one thing that is getting to me about the 'do we live in the digits of pi' thing is that even if there are numbers that 'code' say for you and I-I still do not understand how me and you could exist -unless there was something to 'read' that code out of the digits-I am really intrigued by this and when I am not so tired i am thinking of emailing Mr Pickover myself-he has a website-reality carnival-and seems friendly enough?-any thoughts? Best as always and thanks for stopping by MFM!